This was Baumann's second solo album, released in 1978 following his departure from Tangerine Dream. It covers much of the same ground as his first solo album, mostly short unfussy/minimalist melodic synthesizer pieces with perky sequencing. The main addition to the mix is a vocoder which Peter makes liberal use of in several of the tracks. To be honest, the music on offer here will be immediately familiar in style to anyone who's heard Tangerine Dream's 'Stratosfear', 'Encore' or bootlegs of their lives sets from those times, to the point where it makes me wonder why Baumann felt he had to leave the band to make this stuff! It can hardly have been 'musical differences' (indeed he even can be heard some distinctly Edgar-ish fuzzed guitar in places!) Esoteric's remastering of the album is tastefully done, sounding like just a nice clear transfer from the original tapes, no unnecessary tinkering.
Peter Baumann was a member of Tangerine Dream, a German band that was amongst the pioneers in the use synthesizers to explore new soundscapes. His first solo album was titled Romance 76 and the following year he left TD for a solo career. Trans Harmonic Nights was released in 1979. Besides a modular synthesizer, drums, horns and recorders contribute to the beautiful, atmospheric sounds. THN is entirely instrumental; Baumann would later release vocal albums such as Repeat Repeat and Strangers In The Night.
Unlike the long meandering pieces that Tangerine Dream is known for, the tracks on Trans Harmonic Nights are relatively short, rhythmic and buoyant, embellished with a breathtaking array of sound effects. There is no evidence of voices in the sleeve notes thus one has to assume that in some instances the sequences resembling vocals were creating by synths, for example the title of the first track This Day appear in the mix in a form that sounds like a vocoderized voice.
A sense of loneliness and desolation permeates White Bench And Black Beach, a downtempo number with mournful synths occasionally punctuated by emphatic clusters of drumbeats. The tempo escalates on the bouncy Chasing The Dream, an inspiring tune where appealing warbling and tinkling crystalline textures weave in and out of the mix. The melodious Biking Up The Strand is even more appealing in the lilting flow of its rhythms and symphonic trajectory.
Equally tuneful, Phaseday has more of a melancholic quality as the synths approach the sound of organs and the recorder flutes achieve prominence; it also has a "mood break" in the middle where the drums cease and a spectacular variety of sound effects create a haunting interlude. What sounds like whispered vocals introduce Meridian Moorland, a gently undulating excursion that evokes visions of marshes, reeds and mists; a rhythm break leads into a series of spooky drones, further whispers and SFX before the flowing texture resumes for a brief outro.
The Third Site is a different animal altogether, with an edgy uptempo beat and almost "industrial" flavor punctuated my reverberating beeps and boings and whooshes and more of those choir-like vocal infusions. Trans Harmonic Nights concludes with the majestic Dance At Dawn where the synths approximate trumpets and which definitely contains harmonic vocal samples. Its complex arrangement includes marching beats and jungle drums and this track has a profoundly spiritual undertone, much like Nosferatu by Popol Vuh.
It would not surprise me if a band like Autechre and those 1990s purveyors of intelligent techno like Beaumont Hannant drew inspiration from this masterpiece. Although nothing compares to Trans Harmonic Nights, there are some moments of great beauty on Romance 76 and as for Baumann's vocal work, I recommend Repeat repeat (1981) for the unforgettable songs Home Sweet Home and Realtimes.
I must confess I was afraid of the term "Original recording remastered". Today this phrase means nothing good. It's enough to think the Rendez-vous (Jean Michel Jarre) remastered (re)issue in 2015... And maybe everyone can say a good ("bad") example in this topic. So. I was a little bit nervous. I preordered this album because this was my dream. I had it on cassette (a copy from a copied copy :S) and I've got the downloaded mp3. I love this album, I've loved since the early 90's (since high school) and a new edition was one of my secret dreams. I was very happy when I saw the news about the new edition but I had some ("some") doubts. The first thing I did after the delivery of the CD was putting to my PC to take a look to the waveform and see: is this a dream come true or a naightmare come true? And I calmed down when I opened a track with Audacity. There is no any trace of dynamic range compressing or normalizing. I think this new remastered version is a beautiful example of the nice remastering. The Cherry Red Records (and of course Mr. Baumann) doesn't want to win the loudness war with this new version but wants to give a sound by sound faithful CD to the fans (with a slight amplifying). So I think this CD is my favourite and most precious item of "The Core" (of my collection).
This album is where Peter Baumann emerged from the shadow of his by now former band mates to deliver his own brand of electronic music. Whilst the tracks are rarely very long, they contain within them extended themes which interweave to form a coherent whole within the album.
An absolute pleasure this. Had to do with just a download for so long and now have the new remastered CD in my hands. Having the opportunity to actually listen to it using speakers that move air is proving to be a challenge with teenage kids in the house. Berlin school is not for them. No need to describe the music, genuine fans like myself will have been waiting for this release for some time and will know it inside out. The sound is excellent and not overloud. Spelling errors that plagued the original Virgin release have been corrected and a nice informative booklet is included. Well done Esoteric for the attention to detail.
just a tad improved over Romance 76, but still jjust a bunch of tunes and sequencer patterns that shouldn't be allowed out on their own. There ias an unfinished "demo" feel to most of this, and a producer's ear will quickly find ways in which the original tracks, arrangements and patch banks could have been improved. Simply by switching from dull electronic sounds to orchestra or choir (as i did on an experimental rework track myself in the early 80s, variations on a theme by peter baumann) you can hear and express these compositions in many other ways. The album got lost and forgotten after its release, simply because there was so much better electronica at the time -- Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultz, Kraftwerk, Michael Hoenig, Mark Shreeve -- but actually has a minor merit in being minimalistic, spartan and uninspired. Baumann himself went on to become the world's worst Bowie/Iggy lookalike and lost the musical plot altogether when he added lyrics to his future tracks.